Broken Drummer Boy

Christmas has recently erupted in all of its glittery, commercial glory  in our home, and each new piece of decor is met with Everett and Mae’s inquisitive stares.  For the past few days, they have awakened to some new red and green monstrosity in our family room: a tall, sparkly snowman with its cracked carrot nose, blinking colored lights around the kitchen window that is already adorned with garland, and eventually the the nine-foot Christmas tree residing in the corner which used to house their playpen.  What must they be thinking?    Have all of our fridge-scouring and pantry-foraying antics finally pushed mom and dad off the deep-end?  Now we’ve done it.  That last onslaught into the pancake mix must have been the final straw- the ‘rents are actually cutting down giant trees and heaving them inside.  Totally nutso.

The lengths we went to decorate!  It’s so weird.  We made holes in the wall to hang a “drummer boy” wreath.  We’ve lost both of the drummer boy’s sticks so he just looks like he is giving REVOLUTION! fists with both of his upturned hands.  We’ve got a snowflake banner hung across our basement which I precisely and painstakingly thumbtacked to the wall, all the while ignoring the legos that crunched under my feet.  I made Jacob buy white quilt stuffing so I could arrange it in a purposely haphazard way around two holiday candle holders, only noting after the fact the weirdness of candle holders in snow.  I bought Ellie a ridiculous fancy “holiday” top to wear, and only after she tried it on did I realize she looked less like the chic fashionista I had envisioned and more like an ungroomed sheepdog.  We chopped down a tree in the pouring rain because the tree farm is out of town and it was the only day we could.  The place wasn’t even open.  We caught the unsuspecting owner pulling out of his driveway and he looked at his visitors– cold and wet and expectant, and said “sure, just leave the check in the mail box.  Here’s a saw.”

We do crazy things in the name of tradition at Christmas time, and I don’t think we’re the only ones.

Both sets of neighbors were outside this weekend, wrestling with piles of cords, balancing giant candy canes precariously from garage frames and carefully arranging fake reindeer amidst foliage. Have we all gone crazy?  Or is there a point to all of this tradition?  I’m willing to bet there’s a point, as long as we acknowledge it’s not THE point.  Because, of course, what we’re trying to create is not sugar cookies or gingerbread houses or intricately architected Christmas villages. Whether we have kids or not, what we’re creating with all of these things that we can taste and touch and smell is a feeling.  A feeling of HOME, a feeling of peace we can harken back to in the midst of a chaotic world.

And I think maybe when we acknowledge that it’s CRAZY it becomes a little less crazy.  I’m aware enough to know the season is not about the hustle or the lists.  Or tasty cheese balls.  The tradition is not the point, but it can help lead us to the point, which is (as usual): love & each other.

Thanks for wrestling with your Christmas lights this year.   Also it’s okay if you don’t. But if you do your crazy, do it guilt-free and with joy, because anything that leads us back to the point, however empty the drummer boy’s hands, is worth doing.


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